Photo by Rachel Davis on Unsplash A person's home is the owner's castle. Some homeowners think that's how tax collectors view their properties, especially when it comes to real estate tax assessments. In some places, local officials want to collect even more from grander abodes. But such mansion tax efforts in two of the country's largest cities, Los Angeles and Chicago, have hit roadblocks. Court blows down Windy City tax measure: Chicago's proposal to increase taxes on real estate transactions of $1 million or more was struck down on Feb. 23 by a Cook County judge. The tax was to... Read more →


A recent poll indicates most taxpayers support a direct-to-IRS option Direct File, the Internal Revenue Service's pilot program that will let some taxpayers in 12 states prepare and submit their 2024 tax returns straight to the agency, is off to a slow start. But that pace is intentional. As with all tests, it's a good idea to start slowly and with a limited group of participants. That helps detect issues on a more manageable scale. When the Direct File pilot began, it started with internal testing of nearly 1,200 taxpayers in the participating non-income tax states. They are residents of... Read more →


Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) members adorn the cover of the federal tax advisory committee's 2022 report. Do you constantly look at things and think, I know how to make that better? Then the Internal Revenue Service wants you. Specifically, the IRS' Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) wants you. This all-volunteer group with members from across the United States, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico is committed to improving the IRS and the U.S. tax system. An additional member represents the interests of taxpayers working, living, or doing business abroad. "TAP volunteers consistently work to identify issues, and most importantly, come up with... Read more →


Photo by Marten Newhall on Unsplash The biggest recent scam story had nothing to do with taxes. It was the confession of a financial advice journalist of how she fell for an elaborate con job that ended with her putting $50,000 in cash in a box and handing it to a stranger. The crooks kicked off that scam by calling the writer, recounting enough of her personal information to get her hooked. It was all downhill from there, with an outrageous combination of purported government agencies, including a CIA impersonator. IRS security still suspect: We're all told to protect our... Read more →


Photo by M.O. Stevens, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this afternoon announced it has filed an administrative complaint against H&R Block for wiping out customers' entered data as a way to pressure them to pay for higher-priced tax preparation software options. The data erasure, according to the FTC charge, was when the taxpayers tried to downgrade to more affordable H&R Block software products. In addition, the FTC alleges that the company deceptively marketed their products as free when many consumers actually had to pay for them. "H&R Block designed its online products to present... Read more →


Crooks know you're anxiously awaiting your tax refund. That's why this filing season they're again impersonating Internal Revenue Service agents. The latest refund scam is an email or text about your tax refund or tax refund e-statement. In both cases, warns the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the messages are efforts to steal your identity and money. As in previous incarnations, these latest fake IRS messages encourage recipients to click a link, supposedly to "check on your tax refund e-statement," or "fill out a form to get your refund." The FTC provided the image below of one of these fake IRS... Read more →


The IRS is OK with celebrating the closing of a business deal on a corporate jet, but not so accepting when the aircraft is used for personal jaunts. (Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) If Elon Musk and Taylor Swift were unhappy with the attention their jet flights were getting from a private citizen, a federal agency's plans could cause them even more turbulence. The Internal Revenue Service today announced that it is initiating dozens of audits on business aircraft that were used for personal travel. The audits will focus on aircraft usage by large corporations, large partnerships, and high-income... Read more →


Photo by Ozan Safak on Unsplash Higher income taxpayers tend to take the most advantage of tax breaks. That's no surprise. They can afford to hire tax professionals, who keep track of all the benefits they qualify for and claim them on the well-to-do taxpayers' returns. But there are some valuable tax breaks for the rest of us who are far from wealthy. And while higher-income households do enjoy greater per dollar benefits tax benefits, the breaks available to us tax plebeian are more beneficial when they are measured as a share of our income. Tax credits provide the most... Read more →


Photo by Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash Last August, parts of Michigan were struck by severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding, prompting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to issue this month a major disaster declaration for nine counties. The Internal Revenue Service subsequently announced tax relief for those individual residents and business owners. One of the tax considerations is a new June 17 filing and payment deadline for the affected Michigan taxpayers. The Great Lakes State is the sixth to be granted the new mid-June Tax Day due to disasters. Some Michigan residents join those who were ill-treated by Mother Nature... Read more →


Photo by Kay Bell Not only was last Sunday's Super Bowl LVIII the most watched National Football League championship game ever, it set a betting record. In case you were one of the apparently very few who missed it, the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in overtime. The comeback was similar to the less dramatic result back in 2020, when the two teams faced off in Super Bowl 54. That year, MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes and not-yet-Taylor-Swift's boyfriend Travis Kelce raised their first Lombardi Trophy. The Nevada Gaming Control Board tallied $185.6 million in bets across 182... Read more →


Tax laws are full of unintended consequences. That became painfully clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, when a variety of tax relief provisions were created to help individuals and businesses deal with the virus' economic effects. Such was the case with the Employee Retention Credit, or ERC. "The ERC provided a financial lifeline to millions of businesses and exempt organizations during the pandemic," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel in his prepared testimony for the Feb. 15 hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee. "The IRS has worked hard to implement this credit, and we have processed about 3.6 million ERC... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Planet Volumes In July 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) had charged 22 individuals in connection with an allegedly fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan scheme that sought to defraud the federal government of $11.1 million. On Thursday, Feb. 15, two Georgians who were charged three years ago were convicted for their roles in the scheme. A 42-year-old Decatur man was convicted by a federal jury of bank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, making false statements to a federally insured financial institution, and money laundering in connection with 14... Read more →


Other IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) Saturday openings will be on March 16, April 13, and May 18. Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash For the third consecutive year, the Internal Revenue Service is opening some of its Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) on Saturdays. Face-to-face help at these IRS offices usually is available only on weekdays, and taxpayers must make appointments. But on Feb. 24, March 16, April 13, and May 18 certain TACs nationwide will be open. Even better, on those four Saturdays taxpayers won't need to call ahead. They can just walk into the TACs, which will be... Read more →


Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash Throughout life, we all encounter momentous firsts. First day of school. First time at a paying job. First time holding your child. First time you file a tax return. OK, that last one is probably not an event you celebrate, even if it produced a tax refund. In fact, if you remember filing your first Form 1040 it at all, it's probably because it was not a good experience. There's no way to replace that bad tax memory. But there are steps that first-time tax filers can take to make sure their initiation into the... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Meg Aghamyan First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes filing your taxes together in one package. 💘💕💗💕💘 Or not. OK, I pushed it trying to rhyme marriage and package. Now it's clear why I stick to prose instead of poetry And that "or not" stanza is a bit counterintuitive on Valentine's Day, a time when we traditionally celebrate love and inseparability. But we are talking taxes on this heart day, so there's always an exception. Married filing options: It's true that most of the time, it's better to file one return jointly. Not only is... Read more →


Tax season 2024 is off to a slow start compared to filings at this time last year. At this early point in the tax season last year, the Internal Revenue Service had received nearly 19 million returns. But by the end of the first week of the 2024 filing season, just around 15.3 million returns had arrived at the IRS. That's a substantial 19.1 percent decrease from 2023's early filings. Still, some 2024 taxpayers are happy. They're recipients of the more than 2.6 million refunds that the IRS issued by Feb. 2. The dollar total of those early refunds was... Read more →


Muddy tracks photo by Sean Foster on Unsplash June 17 is becoming the new Tax Day for many taxpayers. Unfortunately for them, the two additional months are because they live in areas hit by major disasters. West Virginia taxpayers are the latest to join this unwelcome club. Other states where individual and business tax filers have a disaster-related June 17 deadline are Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. In West Virginia, the Internal Revenue Service has announced tax relief for Mountain State taxpayers in Boone, Calhoun, Clay, Harrison, and Kanawha counties. Those five WV counties sustained damages from severe storms,... Read more →


Last week, I finally got all the documents I need to file my 2023 tax return. As an independent contractor, the bulk of my income tax statements were 1099-NEC forms. But some folks are getting 1099-Ks. And these tax statements still are causing confusion. Form 1099-K has become more common with the growth of the gig workforce, and the delivery of products and services through online apps and marketplaces, such as PayPal, Venmo, CashApp, eBay, Etsy, Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb. Old form, new amounts: The forms are not new, but the amount of earnings that trigger their issuance has changed.... Read more →